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Re: [existlist] Re: Can anything escape 'the political'?

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  • eupraxis@aol.com
    Jim, Jim: First, the best philosophy, I suggest, is not too remote from our ordinary pre-philosophical ideas. Unless philosophical ideas can be made accessible
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 12, 2007
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      Jim,

      Jim: First, the best philosophy, I suggest, is not too remote from our
      ordinary pre-philosophical ideas. Unless philosophical ideas can be
      made accessible and relevant to ordinary people, then there is little
      ultimate value in them. If the essence of existentialism cannot be
      understood by a non-academic, then existentialism is a dead philosophy.

      Wil: I can't agree less with that. First, what in the world is an
      "ordinary pre-philosophical idea"? Are you talking about some
      Husserlian natural attitude? Some Lockean throwback? Or are you
      proffering some notion of "common sense" as something more original and
      down to earth than it would be if otherwise critically examined? If you
      pardon me for saying so, common sense is a very naive notion, and I do
      not intent the pun. (Yes, there is a pun there.)

      But your second sentence, which advocates the twiddling down of things
      to the weak of mind, suggests -- adjoining the two sentences -- that
      the best of philosophy is that which can be made accessible to the most
      ordinary of people. Spoken like an ad man. I would turn that ethic
      around: the best society is the one that doesn't have to be talked down
      to.

      To go on, you say that if anything cannot be understood by
      non-academics, it is thereby dead. First, that something is dead
      doesn't make it untrue. Second, Existentialism is not a doctrine to be
      made accessible to anyone; it is what is left after the cornerstones of
      an epoch's metaphysics have been laid waste. It is a conversation about
      the meaning of life in a world after "the death of God" (in Nietzsche's
      sense, only). The works that have been produced either in that genre or
      which impact on that theme are called, as it were, post hoc,
      "existentialist"; not the other way around.

      But why do you even bring that up? You are suddenly arguing for easy to
      read books, when you had begun with an epistemological claim about
      common sense vs. critical thinking. Point one was that you can derive
      the best philosophy from ideas not already tainted by philosophy. But
      your second point, which is something entirely different, demands that
      we speak slowly to some imagined chimney sweep about his essence being
      his existence.

      Jim: (I write this as someone who has a PhD in Philosophy.)

      Wil: Not so much.

      Wil


      -----Original Message-----
      From: jimstuart46 <jjimstuart@...>
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 4:46 pm
      Subject: [existlist] Re: Can anything escape 'the political'?























      Wil,



      Thank you for your detailed replies to my points. I'll consider at

      length what you write, and aim to follow up your references.



      I'll just make a couple of points here.



      First, the best philosophy, I suggest, is not too remote from our

      ordinary pre-philosophical ideas. Unless philosophical ideas can be

      made accessible and relevant to ordinary people, then there is little

      ultimate value in them. If the essence of existentialism cannot be

      understood by a non-academic, then existentialism is a dead

      philosophy. (I write this as someone who has a PhD in Philosophy.)



      As I said I think ordinary people have a basic grasp of the

      difference between being free and responsible for one's actions, and

      not being free and responsible.



      Second, I'm still not clear if you accept or reject CSW's two

      definitions of existentialism as being fundamentally accurate or not.

      My own reading of those definitions, and my own understanding of your

      own position, suggests you would reject those definitions because

      they contain the words "man is totally free and responsible for his

      acts" and "stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the

      consequences of one's acts". Perhaps you could clarify your attitude

      to these two definitions.



      Finally, you seem to have taken great exception to my suggesting that

      some of your existentialist ideas are "perverse". You write:



      "But I find it remarkable that you find yourself the defender of some

      imagined

      orthodoxy, and to the point of alleging something sordid and

      unnatural about me."



      I wonder if you are confusing the word "perverse" with the

      word "perverted". All I meant by my use of the word was that your

      ideas came across as "wayward or contrary" to use phrases from my

      dictionary definition of the word. Perhaps "perverse" means something

      different in American English from what it means in English English.



      Jim






















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